2012 World Series of Poker Main Event Down to ThreeTuesday, October 30th, 2012 by Ryan
The 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event’s build up was growing fairly rapidly over the past few weeks, and the action finally kicked off last night at the Rio in Las Vegas where nine players returned to see who would take down the massive grand prize of $8.5 million. The game plan for the night was for the players to play down until there were only three left playing, and they did just that. It took until just after midnight local time for the action to get down to only three, but the three left are going to return tonight to decide who wins the gold bracelet. The final three players include Greg Merson, Jesse Sylvia, and Jacob Balsiger.
When the action kicked off, Sylvia was actually the big stack and many people expected his solid play to make a deep run. With the big stack, he was able to win some solid pots and also just continue to build from there. Greg Merson was sitting in third place when the action started in terms of chip stack size, and many people felt that he was the favorite to win the event. The most impressive story of the World Series’ final table though has to be Balsiger, as he was sitting in second to last place to start the day off, and just grinded until he found good spots to chip up. Balsiger now has the shot to be the youngest Main Event winner ever, which is something that seems to have a shot every year shockingly. The current record holder for that is Joe Cada as he won it back in 2009 when he was 21 years old. Balsiger would break that record by 75 days if he ends up winning the bracelet.
To start off the day Sylvia was holding 43.875 million chips, Andras Koroknai had 29.375 million, Merson had 28.725 million, Russell Thomas had 24.8 million, Steven Gee had 16.86 million, Michael Esposito had 16.26 million, Robert Salaburu had 15.155 million, Balsiger had 13.115 million, and Jeremy Ausmus had 9.805 million to round out the final nine. When the action began though, players were still willing to mix it up, and the play wasn’t quite as tentative as many people felt that it may be. The 30th hand of the tournament was when our first final table knockout came. Steven Gee raised the action to 900k and Merson and Thomas both called. The flop came 7-4-5 rainbow, and Gee bet out 1.6 million. Thomas called and Merson folded. The turn was a Jack and Gee bet 3.25 million in which Thomas called yet again. The river saw a 3 come down, and Gee shoved all-in. Thomas was stalled and thought for a while, and said that he called because he thought Gee didn’t have the straight, and turned over pocket Queens. Gee was holding pocket 8’s and was sent home in 9th.
After that Robert Salaburu had only 8 million chips a good bit after the first knockout, and Sylvia pushed all-in from the small blind on him. Salaburu saw two 7’s in the big blind and called the all in. Sylvia was holding Q-5 of clubs and the flop came blank, as did the turn, but the river was a killer with a Queen that sent Salaburu home in 8th place. After that it was Esposito who was the short stack with only 5.625 million, and he had to make a move. Merson raised up to 1 million and Esposito (who did pick up some chips to get to 10 million) shoved all-in with A-Jo. Merson called and turned over A-K, sending Esposito home in 7th place.
At this point the top three were all close with Merson holding a 1.5 million chip lead on Sylvia and a 3 million chip lead over Thomas. The only non-American player at the final table was Koroknai from Hungary, and he was in 4th with 31.2 million chips. Balsiger was in 5th with 22.475 million, and Ausmus was holding the short stack still with 15.125, but was still grinding.
The next knockout didn’t come for a good while though, around 40 hands to be exact. When Merson raised to 1 million, Sylvia then three bet him to 2.6 million. Koroknai then four-bet from the big blind to 5.3 million. Merson then decided to five bet the action, Sylvia folded, and the Koroknai decided to shove it all in for 36 million chips. Merson instantly called and we had a massive pot. When all was said and done, it was simply a bad time to make a move by Koroknai, who was holding K-Qo, and Merson had A-Ks. The board ran out not helping Koroknai, as he was sent home, and Merson was the massive chip leader with 86.6 million.
Ausmus’s run then came to an end in 5th place, but it was an impressive run as he was the short stack almost the whole time. He raised to 1.2 million and Sylvia called. The two checked, the turn came with a 3, Ausmus then bet after a check from Sylvia, and Sylvia check-raised. Ausmus then moved all-in and Sylvia insta-called. Ausmus was holding an open-ended straight draw, while Sylvia had top pair. The river didn’t help Ausmus and he was sent home.
It didn’t take long for us to find our final three though, as six hands later Russell Thomas raised it up pre-flop and Balsiger shoved all-in. Thomas decided to make the call with A-9o and Balsiger turned over A-Ko. Thomas got no help from the board and went home in 4th place, leaving Greg Merson to start the action in first place with 88,350,000 chips, Sylvia in second with 62,750,000, and Balsiger in 3rd with 46,875,000. Each player remaining will make over $3 million.